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Preparing for Your Post-Secondary Transition

By Neico Baldwin Adams

Graduation from High School

The Journey Begins

Thinking about what you should do after high school can be both exciting and scary. As we arrive at the end of the school year, most high school seniors are preparing for their next chapter in life. Progressively more high school students with autism and other learning differences are planning to continue their education in post-secondary schools, including vocational and technical schools, two-year and four-year colleges, and universities. This is a new journey of independence, the first time for most students. It may also be the first time when many students will be responsible to advocate for their own needs at school. A student’s ability to advocate for him or herself is critical to succeed at the college level.

Knowing Is Half the Battle

When it comes to preparing for life in the post-secondary world, students with disabilities can meet new challenges. A major factor for students with disabilities in their successful transition from high school to post-secondary education is accurate knowledge. The student must seek out disability services and request them each semester. Classroom modifications are not provided like in high school, only necessary accommodations. Unlike high school, parents have limited involvement in their student’s education process. Parents do not have access to student records without the student’s written consent.

Knowing where to find information and knowing the process will help ensure that each student will have the full opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the post-secondary education experience. The chart below explains the difference of responsibilities of the student in college.

HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE
Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers. Student must self-identify to the Office of Disability Services.
Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school. Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student.
Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance. Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.

What Do I Need To Succeed?

Colleges differ from high schools regarding the first step of providing academic accommodations. The student must bring the appropriate documentation concerning his/her disability. Some sources of documentation are: psychologists, health care providers, diagnosticians, and/or information from a previous school, such as accommodation letters, 504, IEP, or ARD documents. Post-secondary disability services are there to assist and support all students with documented disabilities in reaching their academic potential.

HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE
I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan and/or 504
Plan.
High School I.E.P. and 504 are not sufficient.
Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.
School provides evaluation at no cost to student. Student must get evaluation at own expense.
Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A. Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.

Choosing What’s Right for Me

Advocating for your disabilityAs mandated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990, the institution is responsible for providing equal access to an education for qualified students with disabilities. It is the student’s responsibility to initially seek out services. No one will be aware of the student’s needs of physical and academic accommodations when he or she enrolls in college. Post-secondary schools offer individualized services that are structured to support and assist in the pursuit of attaining personal educational goals. It is the student’s responsibility to know her or his rights and how to advocate for appropriate accommodations. Below are some reasonable academic accommodations post-secondary schools provide.

  • Accessibility to campus classes, programs, and activities
  • Alternative media production for textbooks and class materials
  • Consultation with instructors
  • Classroom furniture assistance
  • Note taking
  • Parking and transportation information
  • Sign Language and oral interpreting
  • Test accommodations
  • Tutor referral
  • Universal Design training for staff
  • Use of assistive technology with training

Go For It!

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, There are 22 million students who are currently enrolled in colleges and universities in the US. Out of that 22 million, approximately 11% of them are reported as having some form of disability. Just because you have a learning disability does not prohibit you from attending a college or a university. There may be challenges at times, but there is a great deal of support for you. GO FOR IT!!

Newsletter Articles – June 2016

Empty nest

Congratulations! You did it!! You have just reached a major milestone, and you should be proud of yourself for your hard work to get to this point. You have made the huge decision to let your student leave the nest that you have so carefully and painstakingly built to provide comfort, safety, happiness, and love in order to enter the big, bad world of adulthood.

The idea of your student accomplishing new goals and achieving levels of independence that were previously unimaginable is exciting and what every parent aims for when sending their student to CLE. However, the process can often be a difficult one, especially during the initial transition and during those times when unexpected circumstances arise. Here are some tips to ease the transition and how to handle those challenging situations as they come up.

CLE Tutoring

If you’re anything like I was as a parent, by the time your son or daughter is a high school senior, you’ve pretty much got this IEP thing down. You’ve trained for a long-term marathon of supports and services. You can decipher present levels of performance, write goals in your sleep, and remain ever-vigilant to hold the school accountable if they neglect to provide appropriate accommodations. But what happens once you cross the finish line? You may have heard that there are no IEPs in college, but what does that mean?

Jean Handler - CLE Fort Lauderdale

Parents and educators play a huge role in guiding young adults that are entering college. Families should shift the major responsibility of advocating for their child over to their young adult that will be attending college. Parents can teach their children to have a voice and advocate for themselves in the home setting. Furthermore, educators can help transition students at the high school level by preparing them to have their own voice. In college, there are many accommodations that a student with special needs will need to ensure their success. Being your own advocate will help you to stand up for yourself in the future and give you the confidence that you need to become an independent individual.

Keep Calm - Wave Goodbye

Why spend time worrying about learning the skill of how to disengage from conversations when there is enough trouble engaging or initiating in the first place? Because a crucial element of a conversation is not only learning how to disengage from that particular interaction, but also encouraging the other person to engage in conversation with you again at some point in the future.

There are many levels, or variations, to saying good-bye. It can be complicated. There’s the one you give to someone you do not expect to see again, the one you give to someone who has to excuse himself for a moment to deal with something but will be right back, the one you give a parent, the one you give a co-worker. “Have a nice life,” is different from “See you later,” and also from “See you soon,” or even “Call me back when you’re done.”

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.